According to New Testament prophecy, the day of the Lord will come 'as a thief', implying it takes most people by surprise. A thief operates secretly, and escapes with his loot, unnoticed by anyone.
The events of the 'day of the Lord' include some major developments in man's history, but prophecy is often cryptic, and its meaning is secret and hidden, so it is often misinterpreted.
A big mistake of some is to assume that prophecy is impossible. Atheists sneer and scoff at the idea that there is any such thing as prophecy. They insist that the prophetic sections of the Bible were written after the events they foretold. Jesus warned us to beware of deceivers and false prophets.
Preterism and Dispensationalism are two widely accepted schemes of interpretation of prophecy that claim most Bible prophecy does not apply to the present age, but what if it does? Those who believe in these schemes will be unprepared.
Dispensationalism claims the prophecies of Revelation are literal events, that are yet to occur. Dispensationalists reject any interpretations that imply that prophecy has been fulfilled in history, or that it applies to the present age. They refer to this age as a 'parenthesis' in which prophecy does not apply.
In contrast, Preterists say all the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled in the first century AD, but their proposed interpretations often seem absurd or meaningless.
Many prophecies of the Bible apply today, and are being fulfilled, while people are unaware of it, like victims of a thief. Anyone who misinterprets prophecies meant for the present, and assigns them to the past, or to a future age, is as much in the dark as those who deny prophecy altogether. They are set up for a big surprise, like a man who wakes up one morning and discovers he was robbed during the night! The situation was similar in the time of Jesus, as prophecy was fulfilled in that age too, while most were unaware.
The opening of the 6th seal may refer to events of the modern age, beginning in the last half of the eighteenth century.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
The Lisbon earthquake of Nov 1, 1755, was probably the most influential earthquake of modern times. It was accompanied by a tsunami and fires and killed about 100,000 peope.
In Revelation 12:1, the heavenly woman who represents the Church is clothed with the sun, a symbol of the gospel. The sun becoming black like sackcloth pictures the truth of the gospel being darkened by false teaching. See Joel 2:31, and Isaiah 13:10.
The prophecy pictures the discovery of the law of universal gravitation, which says all masses in the universe 'fall' towards each other.
Just as the spindles of a scroll rolled together cease their rotation, the assumed daily revolutions of the heavens have ceased. The notion of a rigid firmament of heaven containing the stars, that revolved around the earth was abolished. The diurnal rotation was assigned to the earth, as a result of the scientific revolution.
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
Sir Isaac Newton said the heavenly bodies fall like apples, but thousands of years before, Isaiah wrote that they fall like figs.
Voyages of discovery, and the exploration and mapping of the world, accurately relocated all the coastlines of the land areas of the world, along with landforms such as mountains and islands.
The prophecy describes men hiding themselves from the face of God in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.
Why would men say to the rocks of the mountains, 'fall on us'?
The mountains are places where geologic processes of erosion are active, but present rates of erosion of mountains are very slow in comparison to human time scales.
Many people claim that humans are just another creature in the long
evolutionary development, and that humanity is destined to be buried by
the debris eroded
from mountains and hills, and from this premise they conclude that the
human species is
no more significant than any of the previous species that have existed
on the earth,
which have become buried and fossilized. Using this kind of reasoning,
men have convinced
themselves there is no need to worry about the 'wrath of God' and
future judgment, and
they ignore the message of the gospel. Perhaps the prophecy refers to
Woodcut from The image of bothe
churches after the moste wonderfull and heauenly Reuelacion of Sainct
Iohn the Euangelist, contayning a very frutefull exposicion or
paraphrase vpon the same. Wherein it is conferred with the other
scripturs, and most auctorised historyes. Compyled by Iohn Bale an
exile also in this life for the faythfull testimonye of Iesu. (1548)
Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.